(written by Nancy)
Very quiet in the campground last night so we slept pretty good. And, because we had a short day Dave didn’t insist on getting up while it was still dark. Always much easier packing things up when it is light than in the dark!
Even with the later wake-up we were up and on the road before 9. Pretty much the same scenery today as we have had for the last few days – just kilometres and kilometres of shrubby brush. We stopped at a rest stop and Dave got a close up of the pink bush that he mentioned yesterday. Up close it doesn’t look like an azalea at all – but it was quite pretty.
We arrived at the Hi-Way Inn, located at the intersection of the Carpentaria Hwy and the Stuart Hwy, about 11. From there we knew it was less than 10k to Daly Waters so we stopped to have a bite to eat. They had pancakes on the menu so that hit the spot. We finally put ourselves back on the bikes and rode the last 10k to the Daly Waters Pub, which has a caravan park (of sorts) attached to it. I say ‘of sorts’ because there is no camp kitchen at all – I think they expect you to eat in the pub or in your full service caravan!
This is a happening place – even at noon it was very busy with caravanners trying to get in and people eating at the pub. There was even a Contiki tour bus there We got a nice spot in the tent only area so hopefully will not be too overrun. The fellow giving directions to all the spots said it would be full this afternoon – and the caravans did keep streaming in all day.
Okay, so why is this the ‘historic’ Daly Waters? Well, it is famous for having Northern Territory’s oldest pub and Australia’s first international airport, and it is located at the spot where explorer John McDouall Stuart stopped briefly on his 6th expedition from South Australia in 1861 up to Australia’s north border. He was the first explorer to cross the continent from south to north and his trail opened the way for the overland telegraph line in 1871. The area wasn’t occupied until the 1920s when it first served as a drovers’ resupply point, and the pub is in the original store building. The nearby airfield was used by the military for refuelling in WWII. The township has apparently never exceeded 100 people – but I guess if you look hard enough you can always find something ‘historic’ in area!
The pub is quite an interesting place – full of memorabilia stapled to the walls and ceilings. They have nightly entertainment. It is quite kitschy and touristy but fun too. We had the ‘beef and barra’ special for dinner – which came with the salad bar full of all kinds of different salads, as much damper bread as you wanted and watermelon for dessert. We had a lot of food – filled up the calorie deficit of the last couple of days, that’s for sure. The first entertainer was a guy singing 60s songs to pre-recorded tracks. Now there is a comic/singer up on the stage – we are back in our tent but can hear him as clear as if we were sitting right in the pub. I think it only goes until about 9pm so hopefully we will get some sleep soon…
We don’t have great signal here so will probably not stay here for a rest day – we’ll save that for up the road a bit where we can get a better mobile signal and get some things done. Next stop is Larrimah where we probably won’t have mobile signal, and then on to Mataranka, which looks like it might be a nice place for a bit of a rest. There are some hot springs there – perhaps we can even get some use out of these swimsuits we have been carrying for 4000+ kilometres.